Animal magic with TV's Mike
WILDLIFE expert Mike Dilger is always a chirpy presence on The One Show sofa with his bite-sized reports on everything from urban foxes to field mice.
He wings his way to Llanelli's Wetland Centre on Sunday to take on a feeding challenge.
In an effort to highlight the value of our wetlands and the plight of the critically endangered spoonbill sandpiper, Mike will attempt to feed all 500 of the centre's collection of birds in less than an hour.
It might seem like a bird-brained scheme, but says Mike, anything that draws attention to valuable wetlands is worth doing.
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"Because of where Britain is placed on the map our wetlands are unique and they are the most amazing habitats.
"People often think of getting out into the countryside as being all about the spring and summer, with the sound of the birds and with the flowers pushing up, but the amazing thing about our wetlands is that they come into their own in the winter and autumn, as staging posts.
"All manner of birds from Germany, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia and all over the world stop.
"And in the spring and summer you get wonderful reed and sedge warblers, herons, butterflies and dragon flies. The wildlife is incredibly diverse."
Having wetlands on our doorstep is a gift and because we have ready access to all other manner of habitats too, it is easy to become blase about it, says Mike.
"I think the strap-line on the TV programme Coast says 'you are never further than 57 miles away from the coast' in Britain and I think you are never more than 10 or 15 miles away from wetlands."
Mike's own obsession with wildlife began with a Blandford Colour Series Guide To Birds he had as a lad.
"The book had beautiful paintings of 256 British birds and I was determined to see them all.
"I managed 255 with a pair of binoculars I convinced my dad to buy for me.
"They cost £19.99 from Dixons and they were called Twinz. I can still remember that!"
And while Mike has travelled throughout the tropics in his hunt for exotica he says exploring the nature to be found in your own backyard is the one thing we should all be doing, for our own enjoyment and for the sake of our natural world.
And piquing people's interest in the wildlife on their doorstep is the strength of the One Show nature slot he says, however brief it is.
"The danger of us all watching birds of paradise and the wildebeest of the plains on TV is that nature becomes remote and we forget about the blue-tits in our own garden.
"The One Show is about introducing nature on their doorstep to people who haven't taken an interest in it before. And it works.
"I have spent the past year creating a wildlife sanctuary in my back garden, sinking a pond, building a bug hotel, etc.
"And that is something we really can all do.
"If you don't want to dig a pond then sink a washing-up bowl in your garden and wait to see the wildlife it attracts, from pond-skaters to frog spawn.
"Or simply leave a patch of grass unmowed and see wildflowers pop up."
#Mike will feed the birds from 3pm, but he will be at the centre all day if you want to chat to him.